Successfully marketing your business online requires that you “market” to at least two target audiences:
- Your prospective clients or customers, and
- Google and the other search engines.
For your message to reach your customer, and for that customer to find your website, you must first “market” yourself to the search engines.
Marketing to Search Engines = SEO
Search Engine Optimization can be a confusing subject area. There is a lot of industry specific jargon to learn, a great deal of bad information available, and too many companies that misrepresent what they do as SEO.
Sometimes, lost in all of the talk about keywords, SEO strategies, Panda and Penguin updates, links, social signals, and algorithms, is the actual purpose of Search Engines.
Search Engines are businesses. Like any business, they want to deliver the best product they can to their consumer – in the case of the search engines, that means the best search results to searchers.
Understanding Google’s Search Process
To identify the best answers to each search query, search engines assess three elements:
1. Relevancy: Is your website “relevant” to the search term? For example, if the searcher is looking for a Financial Planner – do you offer Financial Planning? In addition, you may be more relevant if you are in the same geographic area as the searcher.
2. Authority: Once the search engine identifies the sites that are “relevant” to the search, they want to organize them in order of authority for display.
Authority is based on a number of elements. The size and age of your website, your history with searchers looking for the same or similar terms, the number of links from other sites pointing at your site (and the authority that those sites have), and more recently, your social signals, are among the factors included in measuring your website’s authority for a given search term.
3. Authenticity: The first two factors, Relevancy and Authority, I first came across in one of my favorite marketing books – Inbound Marketing, by HubSpot founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah.
I have added Authenticity to this list. It’s not that Google has not always wanted to offer authentic results, but the recent Panda and Penguin updates have gone a long ways towards developing more stringent measures of authenticity, and has punished, or at least identified those companies, SEOs, and websites that tried to shortcut the system through deceptive (black hat) SEO strategies.
So, in response to a search query, the search engines check for relevant web pages and rank them in perceived authority for display (assuming that their authority is deemed to be authentic).
Establishing Authentic Relevance and Authority
While your marketing efforts are geared toward consumers, your Search Engine Optimization efforts should be signaling your areas of relevance to the search engines, and be building a case for your authority in those areas of relevance.
Fortunately, some strategies overlap and can reach towards consumers and search engines at the same time – website architecture, blogging, social media, etc.
Future articles will outline strategies for building relevance, authority, and authenticity in the eyes of the search engines.
Thanks for reading. As always, questions and comments are welcomed and appreciated!